WHY SOME MINISTERS HAVE FAILED
by Herbert W. Armstrong
I was just
reflecting on why some ministers have reached the top or close to the
top in rank in God's Church, and then found themselves outside, many
working with their hands, unqualified for any outside job, position or
mistakes proved their undoing: 1) they wanted "the chief seat" for
themselves and 2), they wanted to be served instead of serving. And
back of both of these reasons is probably the fact, saddening and
regretful as it is, they may never have been really converted in
the first place. How many think that just being a "Church member" means
They say an
alcoholic cannot be cured until he admits he is one. It seems to me,
the longer I live and the more I see and experience of humanity,
the more it seems the two most difficult things for any person is, 1)
to admit he or she is in the wrong--thinking wrongly, doing wrong,
actually being wrong. And 2), the most rare thing is to BELIEVE
Christ—not merely believe on Christ but to believe
Him—believe what He says. He is the Word —the
spokesman—the revelatory thought of God. He is GOD speaking. He
is God's word _in person—the Bible is God's word in
writing—the same identical Word. Self-professed would-be
"scholars" in "Biblical Research" have labored long to exalt their own
ego and prove the Church in error by distorting, twisting,
wresting the Bible, using human reason instead of the Spirit of God, in
order to relieve their inner feeling of inferiority and lift the SELF
above the Church. They attempted to discredit and accuse the Church in
order to lift their own vanity above it. Yet they were only using human
reasoning carnally, devoid of God's Spirit.
But some wanted
"the chief seat." They wanted the highest, most prestigious office. Not
so much coveting money as coveting "importance" in the eyes of the
brethren and other ministers.
I know well what
this is, because in my early life before conversion, I was beset by
this fallacy of human nature. At age 16, I became fired up with
ambition. I wanted to be "a success" in life. That is, I wanted to be
looked upon as "important" by important men. I wanted it so intensely I
was willing to drive myself to work hard and diligently to achieve that
state of "importance" in the eyes of the worldly important. But as God
struck Saul down and molded him into the Apostle Paul, so He struck me
down economically and in self-importance to humble me and replace
self-confidence and ego with FAITH and humility. Once I became merely a
"SERVANT" of Christ—a mere lowly human instrument in the superior
hands of the Master Potter--to allow Him to mold and shape my life HIS
way, He was able to use me. For some six years I was the "tail end" and
lowest of the ministers—and thought of myself only as
such. Then the living Christ started the Philadelphia era of His
Church through me with 19 members.
But, like the
grain of mustard seed it GREW at the rate of 30% per year for
thirty-five years. Yet this growth was seemingly so SLOW that God never
allowed me to become exalted. Like Paul, I had my "thorn in the flesh,"
which, like Paul I won't describe, to keep me from ever becoming
exalted. I thank God for the "thorn in the flesh."
But some have
apparently not been blessed with such a handicap or "thorn" to keep
them humble, and so sought the chief seat as rapidly as possible. One
who had a good degree of natural ability became a minister after
graduation from Ambassador College. He immediately set a goal—not
for humble service, but for SELF-glory. He was going to become
"Evangelist" rank, next to highest, by a certain year. When ordained
Evangelist, he exclaimed proudly, "I MADE IT—right on schedule!"
But, like some in Jesus' parable of the sower and the seed, he fell by
the wayside. He no longer is in God's Church.
wanted to be served, and not to serve. To serve was "beneath
them." By sheer natural ability, after graduation from Ambassador, they
rose to a fairly high rank, either in the ministry or at headquarters.
One would never arrive at his headquarters office until around 9:30. He
would be gone to lunch by 11:30. He would return around 2:00 or 2:30,
and be gone for the day by 4:00 or 4:30. But he was good at delegating
his responsibilities to others. Another, a minister of Pastor rank as
area coordinator, preached a sermon no more frequently than once in six
weeks, leaving all that to ministers under him. He was "too busy"
loafing to bother to visit or pray for the sick. But he was very strict
with the ministers under him.
I was thinking
of the former archangel Lucifer, the exalted Cherub. For a long time he
was on the inside of God's Kingdom, just as some have been for some
time on the inside in God's Church. Lucifer came to a very high rank.
He was one of the two Cherubs whose wings overspread the very throne of
God at God's heavenly universe headquarters. Then he was given a
tremendous responsibility and opportunity, being placed on the throne
over the earth and a third of all the angels. But he was ambitious. He
wanted the chief seat of power. He made himself not only heir to the
throne of the universe and number two man under God, but he organized
his "staff" of angels and conspired to dethrone God. He said, "I will
ascend into heaven. I will exalt my throne above" Almighty God. "I will
be" GOD. He tried to "take over" from the inside. But he was cast back
down to earth, now on the OUTside. He became Satan the Devil. Now on
the OUTside of God's Kingdom, he tried to DESTROY! He got to the first
man Adam through his wife. He deceived the entire world. He tried to
destroy the Christ child as an infant. He tried to destroy Jesus at age
thirty by the great temptation. He deceived leaders in the Church,
introduced a counterfeit Christianity, tried to stamp out the true
Church. He used his-false church to martyr millions of saints. Even the
tiny fragment remaining of the true Church in the day when I first came
among them had lost most of God's Biblical TRUTH.
And now Satan is
trying to DESTROY God's Philadelphia era of the Church. His "MO"
— if you can't "take over" from the inside, destroy from the
But what a
tragedy that some have come as Ambassador College students, graduated,
become ministers, and then, after a few years, going out or being put
out, find themselves unqualified for any other profession. Some
have had to find employment at manual labor.
minister of Jesus Christ is a very serious matter. To the young
minister Timothy the Apostle Paul instructed to "be instant"—keep
at it—in season and out of season. And Jesus said, "No man,
having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the
Kingdom of God" (Luke 9:62). Again, Jesus said "Remember Lot's
wife," who turned back.
One should never
start in the ministry until he is fully converted, has received and is
really being led by the Holy Spirit of God—has given his life to
God to be used in SERVING, not GETTING—until he has come to
really admit how wrong he is and has been, and wants to serve rather
than be served. It's for LIFE—and for ETERNITY!
Saul was the
tallest man in Israel, but was small in his own eyes. But when he
became BIG in his own eyes God could not use him any longer. Can we
allow Christ to use us effectively, bearing good fruits, and at the
same time remaining small and humble in our own eyes? That is what is
The motive must
be to GIVE—to CONTRIBUTE—to help and cooperate, and not to
GET rank or power or position, or money for SELF! And we must not TAKE
credit to ourselves, but GIVE God all the glory, for He will not share
that with any one.
from the Pastor General's Report dated April 19, 1982